Legendarily “discovered” at a Hollywood malt shop when she was 15, Lana Turner became a popular pinup model during World War II. Turner resisted being typecast as just a pretty blonde and sought dramatic roles in film noir and historical features. Sometimes her tumultuous personal life overshadowed her onscreen work — she was married seven times, and her teenage daughter stabbed her abusive mobster boyfriend in 1958. But Lana Turner persevered and received accolades until the end of her career, when she guest-starred on the TV soap Falcon Crest, just as glamorous as ever.
Turner only made a few frock flicks, but they’re fabulous fun so let’s enjoy!
Auber in The Great Garrick (1937)
She has a small role in this movie about the 18th-c. actor David Garrick, famous for his Shakespearean roles.
Not historically accurate but stripey & cute! Also, this is before she went blonde.
Maid in The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938)
Vaguely yellowface with those ridiculous eyebrows. To her credit, Lana Turner reportedly “hated the costumes and her makeup” in this film.
Beatrix Emery in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Finally blonde & co-starring with Ingrid Bergman in this Victorian horror flick.
Elizabeth Cotton in Honky Tonk (1941)
This picture always cracks me up! It’s like the three women are dressed for three different movies.
Marianne Patourel in Green Dolphin Street (1947)
A popular romance set in the 1840s.
Lady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (1948)
Lana Turner’s first technicolor film, & hoo-boy, did Walter Plunkett go wild with the colors in these costumes!
This hat is the most hilarious thing in all of frock flicks.
She makes for a wonderfully wicked Milady!
Crystal Radek in The Merry Widow (1952)
Supposedly set in the 1900s & based on a musical, mostly an excuse for Lana Turner to swan about in grand gowns & jewels.
Plus expose her “merry widow” undies.
Samarra in The Prodigal (1955)
All sexed-up as a pagan priestess in this Biblical tale.
Diane de Poitiers, Countess de Breze, in Diane (1956)
Her final costume drama but the best, with gorgeous 16th-c. gowns by Walter Plunkett.
These gowns feature tons of embroidery & elaborate details.
Lana Turner learned to ride & fence for this movie, doing all her own stunts.
While unsuccessful at the box office, I feel this movie is underrated, so if you watch any of Lana Turner’s historical films, do look for this one!
What’s your favorite of Lana Turner’s historical costume movie roles?